If you’re planning to build a custom home in the near future, there’s a good chance it’s your first time doing so. So, it’s safe to assume you have questions about the process.
How long will it take?
What am I responsible for?
When will construction actually start?
To answer these, and a few more of your most common custom home building questions, we’re going to discuss (from start-to-finish) the steps we take to build a custom home — starting with the first contact.
Phase 1: Pre-Construction Planning (1-2 months)
1. Contacting Your Homebuilder of Choice
Let’s say you contact us to build your home. From that moment, we’re going to start asking questions to determine what it is you actually want to build. Call it a ‘state of inquiry’. We can usually ask these questions over the phone and email. Or, you can pop in to talk face-to-face.
At this early stage, our goal is to determine three things:
1) Do you have a plan?
- ‘NO, I don’t have a plan yet’: No worries. We’ll ask you to sit down with our team to sift through our catalog of existing plans (for ideas), or we’ll bring in a designer to meet with you and draw your plans from scratch. If you’re unsure where to start, just think through the basics — how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and how much square footage will you need?
- ‘YES, I have a plan’: Great! We’ll skip a lot of the basic questions and move right on to selecting your home’s finishes (like flooring/siding/ etc.)
2) Do you have property to build on?
- If not, we can help you find some. Just ask.
3) Have you secured financing?
- If you haven’t yet secured financing, getting pre-approved for a construction or home loan is a great way to determine your budget. This is important because we don’t want to take you down the path of designing a $400,000 custom home if your actual budget is closer to $250,000.
2. Selecting Your Home’s Finishes
Once your plan, property, and financing are in order, we’re going to sit down and select all the finishes for your new home. At this stage, we’ll start making decisions about your:
- Bath and Plumbing Fixtures
- Water Systems
- Heating and Air
- Exterior Selections (do you want concrete, stone, brick, or columns?)
- Interior Selections (including your trim, shelving, stairs, fireplaces, etc.)
This process is very detail-oriented, and not every homebuilder chooses to do this before any paperwork is signed — but that’s why we’re different. Pre-selecting many of the finishes and features before the quoting process allows us to create an accurate, fixed-price quote before you sign a contract. This allows us to stay away from extra charges during the build because we priced all the features you wanted up front and not just standard type items.
3. Quoting the Home Build (3 weeks)
We’ll take all the information gathered in steps 1 & 2, communicate with our vendors and construction teams, and prepare a 15 to 20-page quote. At this stage, it’s common for us to quote a ‘total price’ and a ‘total price plus upgrade options’ for things like better flooring or more energy efficient windows. That way, if you’re comfortable with the increases, you can still get what you want.
Once the quote is assembled, we’ll set up a meeting to discuss the document and (assuming there are no change-orders) get your sign off to begin construction.
4. Tying Up Loose Ends Before Construction
Once the quote is approved, we still have two things to finish up:
- Finalizing Financing: Before construction can begin, financing needs to be 100% complete.
- Final Selections: Before the quote was signed, you chose the products you wanted, now it’s time to make all your final selections including colors and finishes.
From this point on, approvals, updates, and change-orders will take place in Buildertrend.
Buildetrend is a website and corresponding app we use that lets you monitor your new home or remodeling project in real-time, with the ability to share selections, sign change orders, and track progress with photos and a shared calendar.
Phase 2: Construction (6-8 months)
5. Building Your Custom Home
Now, we can start building. Timing is hard to predict when you’re building a home from the ground, up — every step of the process depends on a ton of external factors.
While there’s a lot that has to happen during construction, here’s what you can expect:
- Excavation and Sitework: depending on the condition of your lot, site prep and excavation could take anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks.
- Laying Your Foundation: This will be one of three types — slab, crawlspace or basement foundation. To find out more about foundations, read the guide here.
- Framing: That is, putting up the entire wood structure and roofing. This is when your future home starts looking like a house.
- Mechanical Rough-Ins: Our plumbers and electricians will run all the wires and pipes that reside in your walls.
- Exterior Finishes: Installing the stone, brick, or siding that’ll make up your exterior walls. This stage of construction can start anytime after framing is complete.
- Insulation & Drywall
- Trim Material & Flooring
- Mechanical Installations: The plumbers and electricians return to install things like light switches and bathroom fixtures.
- Appliance Installation
- Final Touch-Ups
6. Post-Construction Walk-Thru’s
The first few inspections – or walk-thru’s – will be internal. We’ll spot-check our own work before bringing you in for a more formal inspection.
7. Closing on Your Custom Home
You’re almost there. The finish line is in sight.
Depending on the type of closing, we may not even be present — this is especially true if you received a construction loan and already own the property.
All in all, the process of building a custom home will take 6 months or more depending on the size of the home. It’s a long journey, but it’s exciting and the finished product should fit you and your family like a glove.